1350.) Psalm 146

July 4, 2014

Ps146 praise Jesus

Psalm 146   (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Ps146 praise 2

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—

Colossians 1 tells us that JESUS is supreme in all creation:  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

    he remains faithful forever.

Ps146 neverfail

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.

Think of Jesus touching and healing lepers and feeding thousands of people with miraculous bread and fish!

The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,

. . . and remember how Jesus helped crippled people to walk and opened the eyes of the blind!

the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,

. . . and don’t forget the bent-over woman, and the woman with the issue of blood, when Jesus took their hands and literally lifted them up!

    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner

. . . and look at how kindly Jesus healed the centurion’s servant and the Syro-Phonecian woman’s daughter!

    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

. . . and he brought joy to the widow of Nain when he brought her son back to life!

    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

From the Nicene Creed, speaking of Jesus:

And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

Praise the Lord.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a song that just begs you to sing along! — “Jesus, What a Beautiful Name.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Praise Jesus.    http://www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_13/images/prz002.gif
Psalm 146:2.    https://myloveforjesus.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/psalm146.jpg
I will never fail you.    https://testimoniesofhisgoodness.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/neverfail.jpg?w=570

1349.) Psalm 145

July 3, 2014
http://stephencuyos.com

Psalm 145   The Message

David’s Praise

A magnificent hymn reminding us of all that God has provided for us!  We sing praises to Him for his greatness, his goodness, his grace, and his glory!

Psalm 145 is an acrostic psalm that uses each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order, almost like an ABC book. Today we alphabetize lots of things, but not usually our poetry. The Hebrews didn’t have books readily available, so much of their theology was memorized. Psalm 145 may have been written the way it was to make it easier to remember, since each verse starts with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

–Robert J. and Laura Keeley

I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King!
    and I’ll bless your name into eternity.

I’ll bless you every day,
    and keep it up from now to eternity.

God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
    There are no boundaries to his greatness.

Ps145 future generations

Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
    each one tells stories of your mighty acts.

Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
    I compose songs on your wonders.

Your marvelous doings are headline news;
    I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.

The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
    your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.

God is all mercy and grace—
    not quick to anger, is rich in love.

Ps145 steadfast love

God is good to one and all;
    everything he does is suffused with grace.

10-11 Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
    your holy people bless you.

They talk about the glories of your rule,
    they exclaim over your splendor,

12 Letting the world know of your power for good,
    the lavish splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
    you never get voted out of office.

Psalm145_13 flowers

God always does what he says,
    and is gracious in everything he does.

14 God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
    gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.

15 All eyes are on you, expectant;
    you give them their meals on time.

16 Generous to a fault,
    you lavish your favor on all creatures.

17 Everything God does is right—
    the trademark on all his works is love.

Ps145 pray

18 God’s there, listening for all who pray,
    for all who pray and mean it.

19 He does what’s best for those who fear him—
    hears them call out, and saves them.

20 God sticks by all who love him,
    but it’s all over for those who don’t.

21 My mouth is filled with God’s praise.
    Let everything living bless him,
    bless his holy name from now to eternity!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Matt Redman and “Let Everything that Has Breath Praise the Lord.”  How glad we are to join in the song!

_________________________

The Message (MSG)   Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Images courtesy of:
I will praise Your name forever.    https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5032/5911745777_ce0be9d46e_z.jpg
Imagine God’s future.    http://www.whitehousefumc.org/clientimages/57113/children/psalm22_30.jpg
steadfast love.    http://patriciawonders.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/hearts.jpg
Psalm 145:13.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/63c1d-psalm145_13.jpg
The Lord is near to all.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/c299c-psalms145_18.jpg

1348.) Psalm 144

July 2, 2014

Ps144 Fortress

Psalm 144   (ESV)

My Rock and My Fortress

Of David.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;

Ps144 playing-piano

I once had a piano teacher who would quote this verse at difficult musical passages!

he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
    or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
    his days are like a passing shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down!
    Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
    send out your arrows and rout them!
Stretch out your hand from on high;
    rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

I will sing a new song to you, O God;
    upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

Ps144 bird-singing

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Nehemiah 11:22 — Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.

Psalm 144:9 — I will sing a new song unto Thee, O God.

Ephesians 5:19 — Speaking to yourselves in songs and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16 — Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Singing people do practical work.  The singers were over the business of the house of God.  You who are being busy all day long about common things for love of Him, isn’t it good to know that you are singers and He is listening to your song?  You new song?

There is always something new to sing about.  God’s singers are the happiest people in all the world.  Even when they can’t sing so that others hear, it doesn’t matter.  We can be happy just to sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord.

The Lord give us grace in our hearts so that we may be His singers today.

10 who gives victory to kings,
    who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

12 May our sons in their youth
    be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
    cut for the structure of a palace;

Ps144 S and S

We have a wedding coming up in our family — son Sean will soon marry Shauna next week in a vineyard in California.  This verse makes me think of them!  And the remainder of the passage is a blessing not only for them, but for all of us who are loving the adults that our children have grown up to be.

13 may our granaries be full,
    providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
    and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young,
    suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
    Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

_________________________

Music:

I am in the mood for piano music, having spent my own countless hours over the years struggling with difficult passages!  HERE  is Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2.  The pianist is Valentina Lisitsa, a Ukrainian-born and trained classical pianist who resides in North Carolina.  Her hands and fingers have been wonderfully trained!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
A mighty fortress.    http://02aa9c2.netsolhost.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Fortress.jpg
playing piano.    http://musicgears.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/playing-pianobenefits-of-playing-piano-hscsxis9.jpg
bird singing.    http://psalmslife.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/bird-singing.jpg

1347.) John 21

July 1, 2014

“The Second Miraculous Draught of Fish” by James Tissot, 1886 (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

John 21   (NRSV)

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”

They answered him, “No.”

6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

They cast their nets in Galilee
just off the hills of brown;
such happy, simple fisherfolk,
before the Lord came down.

Contented, peaceful fishermen,
before they ever knew
the peace of God that filled their hearts
brimful, and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed
the flapping sail,
homeless in Patmos died,
Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
head-down was crucified.

The peace of God, it is no peace,
but strife closed in the sod,
Yet let us pray for but one thing—
the marvelous peace of God.

–William A. Percy

7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.

10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them;

Why 153 fish?

This number has been a field day for speculative interpretations of the Bible since the early church.

153 is the sum of numbers 1 to 17. Some (like Augustine) say that it is a number representing the number of commandments (10) added to the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.

153 is the added numerical value of the Greek words “Peter” and “fish.”

Some ancient writers (such as Jerome) held that there were 153 different types of fish in the world; this represents a “full harvest” of all of the world.

Some (like Cyril of Alexandria) say that 100 stands for the Gentiles, 50 for Israel and 3 for the Trinity.

The truth is that all we know for certain is that 153 stands for the number of fish that they caught! We must always be careful of manufacturing “hidden meanings” in the Word of God.

–David Guzik

and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

Revelation 3:20 (King James Version)

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

RESOLUTIONS

Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him!  He does not humiliate us.  He does not criticize us.  He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder.  Rather, He takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him.

Peter miserably failed his Lord when he fled with the other disciples from the Garden of Gethsemane.  Later, he publicly denied that he even knew Jesus.  Peter must have wondered if he was even capable of being Jesus’ disciple when he was unfaithful to Jesus in His most crucial hour.

You may be painfully aware that you have failed your Lord in many ways.  Perhaps you were not faithful.  Perhaps you disobeyed His word to you.  Perhaps you denied Him by the way you lived.  Jesus will not berate you.  He will not humiliate you.  He will ask you to examine your love for Him.  He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?”  If your answer, like Peter’s, is “Yes, Lord,” He will reaffirm His will for you.  If you truly love Him, you will obey Him (John 14:15).  Jesus does not need your resolutions, your re-commitments, your promises to try harder.  Jesus asks for your love.  Then your service to Him will be what He desires.

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

Peter remained faithful to the Lord and was crucified upside down during the reign of Nero.

After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus and the Beloved Disciple

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”

21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”

22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”

How easily we get distracted from our own responsibilities and calling by wondering about the details of someone else’s walk with the Lord.  We critique, we second-guess, we opine.  Jesus says to us what he said to Peter:  “What is that to you?”  Let us serve others, but mind our own business! 

23So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

24This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

25But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

_________________________

Music:

This song is, I think, a good one to hear as we close our reading of the Gospel of John.  Here is MercyMe and “The Love of God.”  Frederick M. Lehman wrote this hymn in 1917 in Pasadena, California.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   What can you learn from Peter and Christ’s exchange?  How can you “Feed my sheep”?

2)   At the close of our DWELLING in John’s Gospel, how has your understanding of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus been changed?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Tissot.  http://www.atsvirtual.org/Websites/atsvirtual/Images/tissot-second-miraculous-catch-of-fish.jpg
catch of fish.  http://www.virtualpreacher.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/033_03_0332_Turkey.png
fish plate.  http://www.englishcountrypottery.net/catalog/images/fishplate.JPG
Do you love me?    http://www.mytinyphone.com/uploads/users/sexy_boy/420277.jpg

1346.) John 20

June 30, 2014

“Easter Morning” by Maurice Denis

John 20   (NRSV)

The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved,

John, the author, humbly does not refer to himself directly.

and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

The disciples Peter and John running to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection — by Eugene Burnand, 1898 (Musee d’Orsay, Paris)

4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

“The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene” by Alexander Ivanov, 1834 (State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg)

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

16Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

One Bible scholar has written:  “Never was a one-word utterance more charged with emotion than this.”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The fact that Jesus makes a woman the first witness of His resurrection is significant. The law courts of that day would not recognize the testimony of a woman, but Jesus did.  This also argues for the historic truth of this account. If someone fabricated this story, would they make the first witnesses to the resurrection women, who were commonly (if unfairly) regarded as unreliable witnesses?

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

“Christ Appearing to His Disciples after the Resurrection,” by William Blake, 1795 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

The disciples were full of fear when Jesus came to them.  After their cowardly desertion of Jesus on Friday, they may have been expecting a rebuke from him.  But our kindly Lord knows our weaknesses, and instead “stood among them” and offered peace.  He does the same for us today.   Peace be with you!

21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

He showed them His hands and His side: Jesus gives assurance to the disciples about who He is and that He really has risen from the dead.

As the Father has sent Me, I also send you: Jesus gives His disciples a mission, to continue His work on this earth.

Receive the Holy Spirit: Jesus gives His disciples the Holy Spirit, bringing new life and the ability to carry out their mission. Many people see the connection between this breathing on the disciples and when God created man, and breathed the breathe of life in him. This is a work of re-creation, even as God breathed life into the first man. This is where the disciples are born again.

If you forgive the sins of any: Jesus gives His disciples authority to announce forgiveness and to warn of guilt, as authorized by the Holy Spirit.

–David Guzik

Jesus and Thomas

“The Incredulity of Thomas” by Peter Paul Rubens, 1615 (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp)

24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Thomas is a good example for us in many ways.  He refused to say he understood when he didn’t, he refused to pretend to believe when he didn’t.  And when he did understand and believe, he went all the way and properly called Jesus Lord and God.

AND THE GLORY
by Ann Weems

The silence breaks into morning.
The One Star lights the world.
The lily springs to life and
      not even Solomon . . .

Let it begin with singing
      and never end!
Oh, angels, quit your lamenting!
Oh, pilgrims,
      upon your knees in tearful prayer,
           rise up
                and take your hearts
                     and run!
We who were no people
      are named anew
           God’s people,
for he who was no more
      is forevermore.

The Purpose of This Book

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

_________________________

Music:

This song tells the story of the resurrection from the point of view of Peter.  HERE  is “He’s Alive” sung by Dolly Parton.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   The resurrection can seem incredible, if not impossible, to our scientific minds.  What are some images you can use to explain resurrection to someone who is not familiar with John’s Gospel?

2)  Lift up your hearts!  We lift them up unto the Lord!  Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God!  Thank God for Christ’s resurrection!
_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Denis.   http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Mat-28,01_Women_Resurrection_Femmes/17th_21th_Siecle/20%20DENIS%20MATIN%20DE%20PAQUES%20ST%20GERMAIN%20EN%20LAYE%20M.jpg
Burnand.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BurnandJeanPierre.jpg
Ivanov.  http://www.abcgallery.com/I/ivanov/ivanov3.html
Blake.  http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/timage_f?object=11502.0&oimage=0&c=
Rubens.  http://www.wga.hu/art/r/rubens/10religi/12religi.jpg
Easter lilies.    http://www.viabellaflowers.com/images/easter-lily.jpg

1345.) John 19

June 27, 2014

John 19   (NRSV)

Jesus Sentenced to Death

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.

Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.  In regard to crucifixion, the goal of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive the cross.

–David Guzik

2And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face.

4Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”

7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

8Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

13When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”

15They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!”

Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Actions speak louder than words.  Funny — they wanted a Messiah to save them from the Romans, yet now they embrace Caesar as their king.

16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

Actions speak louder than words.  After declaring several times that he could find no guilt in Jesus, Pilate yields to the crowds and lets them kill an innocent man.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

19Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”

22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.

24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”

Jesus’ final word (tetelestai in the ancient Greek) is the cry of a winner. Jesus had finished the eternal purpose of the cross. It stands today as a finished work, the foundation of all Christian peace and faith, paying in full the debt we righteously owe to God.

–David Guzik

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (New International Version)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

Jesus’ side is pierced with a spear, Fra Angelico (c. 1440), Dominican monastery of San Marco, Florence.

31Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

35(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

The Burial of Jesus

38After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

A Roman period tomb with a rolling stone, discovered near Mount Carmel in Israel.

With thanks to Joseph of Arimathea for the provision of a tomb — Jesus won’t be needing it long!

_________________________

FRIDAY
by Ann Weems

The sky peels back to purple
      and thunder slaps the thighs of heaven,
and all the tears of those who grieve
      fly up to the clouds and are released
and drench the earth.
The ones who see and hear
           know
      that all is lost.
The only One named Savior
           died
      upon a cross.
The ones who believed and loved
      huddle together
           stunned.
All night long
      the angels weep.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Were You There?” by the Annie Moses Band — sorrowful but with a joyful closing!  Annie Moses Band is a musical ensemble known for their virtuosic strings and creative re-imaginings of American classics. Their style spans classical crossover, Americana, folk, and jazz influences. And — they are siblings!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  John records Jesus saying three things:  giving his mother into John’s care and keeping, expressing his thirst, and announcing his completion of his work.  What do these three statements tell you about Christ?

2)  What does a picture of Jesus on the cross say to you?  If you could be there then, what would you say to Jesus while he is hanging on the cross?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
John 3:16.  http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/john3-16.jpg
Jesus before Pilate.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/jesusandpilate.jpg
stained glass – nailed hand.  http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/jcpjr/jcpjr0908/jcpjr090800001/5299375-stained-glass-window-of-the-crucifixion-of-jesus.jpg
Fra Angelico.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/angelico.jpg
tomb.   http://ferrelljenkins.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/tomb_153-t.jpg
crucified Jesus, face.   http://newparadigmthinkers.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/crucified_jesus__the_face_by_devcager.jpg

1344.) John 18

June 26, 2014

Very old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

John 18   (NRSV)

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

5They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.

7Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Two gardens.

The entrance of Christ into the Garden at once reminds us of Eden.  The contrasts between them are indeed striking.

In Eden, all was delightful; in Gethsemane, all was terrible.

In Eden, Adam and Eve parlayed with Satan; in Gethsemane, the last Adam sought the face of His Father.

In Eden, Adam sinned; in Gethsemane, the Savior suffered.

In Eden, Adam fell; in Gethsemane, the Redeemer conquered.

The conflict in Eden took place by day; the conflict in Gethsemane was waged at night.

In the one, Adam fell before Satan; in the other, the soldiers fell before Christ.

In Eden the race was lost; in Gethsemane Christ announced, “Of them whom thou givest me have I lost none” (John 18:9).

In Eden, Adam took the fruit from Eve’s hand; in Gethsemane, Christ received the cup from His Father’s hand.

In Eden, Adam hid himself; in Gethsemane, Christ boldly showed Himself.

In Eden, God sought Adam; in Gethsemane, the last Adam sought God!

From Eden Adam was “driven”; from Gethsemane Christ was “led.”

In Eden the “sword” was drawn (Gen. 3:24); in Gethsemane the “Sword” was sheathed (John 18:11).

–Arthur W. Pink

10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.

11Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus before the High Priest

12So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

“The Taking of Christ” — alabaster, from the early 1300’s (Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp)

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

CAN MAN SEIZE GOD?

On the night of Jesus’ arrest, what was it that bound the Lord to those Roman soldiers?  Surely the ropes and cords were not strong enough to hold the Creator of the universe.  If Sampson could break the ropes of the Philistines, certainly the Son of God could do the same.  No, Christ was not bound by the soldiers; he was bound by his own compassionate, divine, loving heart that caused him to give himself to them.  It was Christ’s love for you and me that caused him to go with those soldiers who eventually nailed his body to the cross.

Can man seize God?  Never!  God gave himself away that night.  Jesus was in perfect control all throughout his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

God will never let you get into a situation in which he is not in perfect control.  When you find yourself in circumstances that seem to be full of chaos and confusion, look to Christ.  If you belong to him, you will find him there in perfect control of your situation.

It was Jesus, the One in whom all things exist, who sustained the Roman soldier’s life while he roughly placed the Son of God on the cross, and it was Jesus who gave that soldier the physical strength to drive the spikes into his hands.

14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Peter Denies Jesus

How is it, Lord, that we are cowards in everything save in opposing Thee?

- Teresa of Avila

15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.

17The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

23Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

In saying this, Jesus wasn’t being uncooperative, only asserting His legal right. There was to be no formal charge until witnesses had been heard and been found to be truthful.   And there is the problem, since it was the High Priest’s duty to call forth the witnesses first, beginning with those for the defense. These basic legal protections for the accused under Jewish law were not observed in the trial of Jesus.

–David Guzik

Peter Denies Jesus Again

“Peter’s Betrayal” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it and said, “I am not.”

26One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?”

27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Jesus before Pilate

28Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”

30They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.”

The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

The Jews would have killed him by stoning; Jesus said he would be “lifted up” on a cross.

33Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Augustine observed from this verse that earthly kingdoms are based upon force, pride, the love of human praise, the desire for domination, and self interest — all displayed by Pilate and the Roman Empire.

The heavenly kingdom, exemplified by Jesus and the cross, is based on love, sacrifice, humility, and righteousness.

–David Guzik

37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

38Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

40They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

_________________________

Music:

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” — one of the most poignant, moving hymns ever written.  Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, 1707.  Charles Wes­ley re­port­ed­ly said he would give up all his other hymns to have writ­ten this one.  Here it is sung by Kathryn Scott.  I ask you to pray this hymn as you listen.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   “What is truth?”  Suppose Pilate asked you the same question he asked of Jesus — how would you answer it?

2)   Are you seeing more of what it cost Christ to be your Savior?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
olive trees.    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/jcm/JC-olives.jpg
garden greenery.   http://www.greeninfluence.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/goeden.jpg
“The Taking of Christ.”    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/christ-arrested1.jpg
legal scales.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/legalscales5b15d.gif
Bloch.     http://www.painting-palace.com/files/173/17208_Peters_Betrayal_f.jpg

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